Just eight percent of antibiotic prescriptions in 2016 were clearly justified, according to a new study of privately-insured Americans.
The rest were dubious – 23 percent were unnecessary, 36 percent were possibly necessary, and 28 percent were made without a documented diagnosis.
In fact, according to the latest data in 2016, one in six adults and one in 10 children received an unnecessary prescription at least once.
Lead author Kao-Ping Chua of the University of Michigan warns this is likely a staggering underestimate of the true rate of over-prescribing which is driving us towards a future where antibiotics do not work against even the most minor of currently treatable pathogens.
Antibiotic resistance is one of the greatest threats to public health in the world, and the large number of antibiotics that providers prescribe to patients are a major driver of resistance,’ Dr Chua, a researcher and pediatrician at University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, said.
‘Providers urgently need to eliminate prescribing that isn’t needed, both for the sake of their patients and society.’
Concerns about over-prescribing stoked up in recent years – but specifically pertaining to opioids, as the highly addictive painkillers started claiming lives (72,000 of them in 2017).